The Sell aka The Scam

There is never an easy way to get rich aside from pure luck. Anyone that tells you otherwise is just trying to rip you off. When people try telling you that you can “get rich if you follow what I tell you,” they’re telling you what you need to hear so that you give them money. I recently sat through a speech given by a man who was doing just that. He was telling us the steps we needed to follow to take our business from being invisible to having power.

He started the lecture off by pushing 3 books. They were written by two people, Robert Kiyosaki and Blair Singer. If you haven’t heard those names before, they’re quite common when you read about the Amway Multi-Level Marketing schemes. The book, Poor Dad, Rich Dad, never gives concrete advice on what you should do. It makes you think it does by telling stories. Stories that are filled with lies and, in some cases, illegal activities. That’s not what this post is about though.

The lecture he was giving was word-for-word, step-by-step the same as several other people have given. It was the same down to the colors of markers he was using to write on his supplied drawing board. He might have gotten away with it if he wasn’t talking to a group of people from tech startups with smartphones.

I’m used to people trying to constantly sell to me. The only reason this bothered me is that there were people there that didn’t know better. It all sounds like great advice until you realize he wasn’t saying anything and that the books were telling you to break the law to get ahead. It might work for a little while until someone finds out and you lose it all and/or end up in jail. That’s where I draw the line. People’s lives are on the line. Most of their businesses aren’t making any money and you’re showing them ways to make some, knowing it’s illegal and immoral.

He stuck around for the entirety of the meeting. Normally, that would be acceptable except that he didn’t understand what the majority of us did. When someone comes and talks to us, we kind of expect them to have some form of technical knowledge. From what I saw, he had none. Why would you come talk to a group of people that you know nothing about? Being unprepared is one thing. Not knowing your audience is another.

As he was getting ready to leave, he made sure to mention that he had business cards and set them down on a nearby table. A few people picked them up. I’m sorry if you follow his “advice” and lose everything.

The Aftermath

Some time ago, I wrote about my first real experience with the business game. It was nothing like I had expected. The whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth. What can you do though? It’s a game that you can’t just not play; and it sure as hell isn’t a game that you can just flip the board when you get frustrated. The only option left is to suck it up and keep playing.

Over the last two months, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. I’ve been trudging my way the muck trying to learn as many way as possible to bend the rules so I don’t have to be a drone but still get things done. It just seems like this world is meant to keep you in a mold of what somebody else thinks is “right”. I’m sure it’s the same way for everybody but it doesn’t sit well with me. There doesn’t have to be uniformity to have cohesion. I don’t have a “normal” job because I don’t want to do the same thing day in and day out, at the same time and wearing the same thing. If I’m wearing the same thing, it means I haven’t showered and changed yet. Sure, it’s gross to some people but I don’t really care.

Caffeine has been my friend lately. Late nights working and relaxing with early mornings are a killer. I don’t even know if I’d consider them “late nights” since I’m usually up until 3 or 4am and sometimes later. I’m usually up between 8 and 10am. Sleep is not something I get much of anymore.

Back to the original topic: I spend most of my time trying to think of ways to make an idea work so the “suits” will enjoy it but the “geeks” can still be relaxed. While I work well under pressure, it has to be pressure I give myself. Procrastination, not knowing what I’m doing, not wanting to do it but needing to. Those are the best ways for me to get work done. Forcing me to do something on short notice isn’t. If I have three days to pull together an idea/event, you’re screwed. My creativity just doesn’t turn on. I don’t have a normal job because I need to be able to work when it hits me. I can work 2-3 hours a day during the week and then pull 8-10 in a night on a single idea because I have the inspiration and drive.

I’ve had this discussion with a number of people. “Why don’t we just get a 9-to-5 and work like everyone else?” It usually comes down to “Why?”. I always think about Office Space when someone asks me that question. When I’m being forced to work, I’m like Peter. I sit there doing absolutely nothing because I can’t make myself work. I’m sitting in a cubicle right now and it’s killing me. It’s cramped. It’s confined. It’s not comfortable. If I have a case of the Mondays, I don’t want people telling me. I don’t need people telling me that I forgot my coversheet for the TPS reports and making work all weekend because everyone else sucks.

After many, many games, I’m still on top. I haven’t lost hope yet. I hope I don’t lose it anytime soon. Time to go back to doing “real” work and listening to music that most people would be embarrassed to admit they listen to.

The Business Game

Recently I had a luncheon with some funders for a business I’m starting. I knew it wasn’t going to be very difficult. I knew basically what to expect. We would have to go up, tell them what we did and how we were using their money, all the old smoke and mirrors that accompany something like this.

I noticed one thing throughout all of the presentations though. The more “presentable” the presenter was, the more interaction from the funders they received. At the time, I chalked it up to the funders having a better understanding of their projects and knowing what they wanted to ask. That was until one presenter finished. He wore “nice” clothes and had obviously prepared for his presentation. The downside to it? His presentation was awful. He read from slides, barely looked up, stumbled over his phrases. He got the most attention from the funders. I was a little confused by it but brushed it off until I went to lunch with a few people that were also there.

My business was the last one up to present. We went into detail about partnerships that we had been working on and where we wanted to take the business. We got one question. It had nothing to do with the partnerships. It had nothing to do with where we were headed. It was about the method we were going to use to collect dues. The most mundane part of our presentation was the part we were asked about.

As time passed and we were eating lunch, that question kept popping up in my mind and it was frustrating me. What was the difference between our presentation and the horrible one that got more attention? It finally clicked. He played the old school business game. Use the old inefficient way of presenting to play to the funders, who were all from an older generation. The clothes, the boring presentation, the lack of emotion in his speaking. That’s what they wanted. They didn’t want a “good presentation” they wanted a “business presentation”.

I’m not sure how I missed it but once I looked at the generation gap and the region we’re in, I knew that we approached it in the wrong way for that situation. It still confuses me when I think about how the older generation attaches the quality of a job/service/product with the way the people involved with it dress. Somebody less qualified can get further than someone that can do the job just by the way they dress.

This was my first time playing the business game and I guess I lost. I’m not going to tip over the board or never play again though. Now I know what I’ll be up against when I try to “bend the rules” to make things go in my favor without kissing ass or giving up my dignity for the sake of how someone sees me instead of how they see my work.